As ice fishing ends, attention swings to tournament trails
Friday is an important fishing day. It’s the end of most of our hard water angling and the last day of northern pike, pickerel, tiger muskellunge and walleye fishing until their seasons reopen the first Saturday in May.
All ice shanties must be removed from all waters by Friday to prevent any from falling through the ice in the spring and becoming a navigational hazard.
I’ve spoken to several of the “cast for cash” weekend cash anglers, and a few of those who will be fishing on the pro circuit. They are anxious to get ready for the upcoming tournament seasons. I’ve accumulated all the schedules and most of the weekend bass tournaments as well as the weeknight and weekly one-day events. This includes the registration fees, launch sites and all the information you need to fish these tournaments.
As a once-every-weekend bass tournament angler, I highly recommend trying a few of these at any level, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself at one of the local marinas looking at bass boats.
The Northeast Team Bass partners tournament has been around for quite some time, and this year, it is offering five qualifying points tournaments and one open. They are: June 9, Lake Champlain at Ticonderoga; June 23, Great Sacandaga Lake at McMurry’s launch; July 13-14 (individual tournaments each day), Oneida Lake at Marion Manor; Aug. 4, Lake George at Mossy Point, and an open tournament Sept. 29 on the Mohawk River at Schoharie Crossing.
There is a $35 annual individual membership fee, and each tournament is $200 per team. Registration is required by the close of business the Wednesday prior to the tournament and can be paid in cash at Andersen Boat in Burnt Hills, or by money order that must be received by Monday prior to the tournament. Of the $200 fee, $60 goes to the Tournament of Champions, $10 to big bass and $130 for the tournament payback. No late entry fees will be accepted. For online membership, rules or further details, go to www.andersenboat.com.
NY BASS FEDERATION
This trail has been offering excellent bass tournament fishing opportunities and actually could lead to a contestant fishing in the Bassmaster Classic. These tournaments are draw-partner events. Each boater is paired with a non-boater for the event. Boaters are fishing against boaters, non-boaters against non-boaters, and the winners paid accordingly. This year, they’re offering three points and one club team event.
Only current members of B.A.S.S. ($25), National B.A.S.S. Federation dues ($30), State NY Bass Club Federation dues ($20) can fish these events.
Entry fees for the boater are $125 and $75 for the non-boater. An additional $40 will be charged for late registration. Boat operators must have filed proof of at least $300,000 boater’s liability insurance prior to practice and competition days.
The New York Bass Federation schedule is: June 16, Chautauqua Lake; July 28, Lake Champlain at Ticonderoga; Aug. 17-18, Club Team Championship at Oneida Lake; and Sept. 8, Cayuga Lake. For further details, go to www.nybassfed.com.
What I believe to be the oldest local bass tournament trail, the Mohawk Masters will kick of its 21st season this year. This trail is also the most unique because the tournaments are singleman (you fish alone) events. Also, as their name indicates, all their tournaments are held on the Mohawk River and require no membership fee. Each of their seven regular points tournaments carries a $45 entry fee, plus an additional $5 for lunker. The final tournament, the Highrollers, has a $100 entry fee.
The Mohawk Masters schedule is: June 15, AlCathy’s/Waterford; June 29, Kiwanis/Rotterdam; July 13, Dufel’s/Schoharie Crossing; July 27, Route 5S launch; Aug. 17, Kiwanis/Rotterdam; Sept. 7, Dufel’s/Schoharie; Sept. 27. Kiwanis/Rotterdam; and the Highrollers, Oct. 5 at Kiwanis/Rotterdam. For more information, call Tim Longo, 441-9963.
This is another team trail that has been around for quite some time, and this year they will hold six club points tournaments, a two-day championship and one open tournament. Annual dues are $35 per angler, and tournament fees are $100 per event, which includes lunker. Awards are given to the top five teams. Last year, they averaged 30 boats (teams) per tournament.
The Schenectady Elite schedule is: June 8-Lake Champlain/South Bay; June22, Great Sacandaga Lake/McMurrys; July 7, Oneida Lake/South Shore; July 20, Mohawk River/Mohawk Valley Marine; Aug. 10, Schroon Lake/Horicon; Aug. 24, Saratoga Lake.
The two-day championship will be-Sept. 28, Lake Champlain/Port Henry and Sept. 29, Mohawk River/Kiwanis. The open pike tournament will be held May 4 at Saratoga Lake. For additional information, contact Tim Squires at 879-7896 or email@example.com.
TOWNE AND COUNTRY
This team trail allows up to three anglers per boat and a combined limit of five fish per boat. Club membership is $25 per angler, and tournament fees are $100 apicee for each of their eight events.
The tournament schedule is: June 2, Onota Lake, Pittsfield, Mass.; June 15-16, Lake Champlain/Point AuRoche; July 7 and 21, Lake Champlain/Plunder Bay; Aug. 18, Lake Bomoseen; Aug. 25, Lake Champlain/Plunder Bay; Sept. 8, Great Sacandaga Lake/McMurrys. The championship is Sept. 22 Lake Champlain/Plunder Bay. For additional information, email Tony Colantonio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, let’s step up a notch to some of the national/regional tournament organizations. If you want to go for the big leagues, these events is where it starts.
WALMART BASS LEAGUE
The WalMart Bass Fishing League will offer three tournaments in New York state in 2013. These are one-day Saturday tournaments where there is a boater paired with a co-angler. Boater fees are $200 or $300, depending upon the event, and co-angler fees are $100 or $150. Boaters can win up to $9,500 or $12,500 and co-anglers $3,000 or $4,500. The three tournaments in New York are: July 13, Oneida Lake/Oneida Shores; Aug. 3, Lake Champlain/Plattsburgh; and Sept. 7-8, 1000 Islands/French Creek Marina. For further details, go to www.flwoutdoors.com/bassfishing.
This is another one-day (Saturday) regional tournament trail run by American Bass Anglers (ABA), whose Northern Division this year is offering five tournaments in New York.
Another boater-co-angler format, contestants must join B.A.S.S. and ABA, $25 for one year for each. All that’s needed to get into the regional championship is to compete in the Regional Qualifier. Registration fees for the qualifying tournaments are: boater, $200, co-angler, $100; for the divisional championship, $300 and $150 respectively.
The ABA schedule is: June 15, Lake Champlain/Plattsburgh; June 29, Lake Ontario/Henderson Harbor; July 20, Oneida Lake/Oneida Shores; Aug. 17, Great Sacandaga Lake/Northhampton Park; and Sept. 21-22, Oneida Lake/Oneida Shores. For further details, call (256) 232-0406 or go to www.americanbassanglers.com.
Tim Blodgett of Saratoga Tackle called me and said he was going to host his Saratoga Bass Challenge Tuesday afternoon tournaments from 5-8 p.m. again this year. The entry fee is $60 per boat and there’s an optional $10 lunker pool. Take off and weigh in will be from Lee’s Campground next to the state launch site.
One or two anglers can fish and there is a five-bass limit. There will also be an end-of-the-year tournament based on points earned at the weekday tournaments. For more information, call 584-3952 or go to www.saratogatackle.com.
I haven’t heard from South Shore Marina, which has been holding Wednesday late-afternoon partner bass tournaments on Saratoga Lake. I advise calling them (584-9125) and watching their website www.southshoremarinaofsaratoga.com. I’ll publish information when I get it.
The Greenbush Bass Association is another popular group. It holds both club and open bass tournaments on popular bodies of water. I’ll include these schedules when I receive them.
For those who want to start slower, there’s no better way than joining a bass club. I think you’ll find this is where the majority of successful pro bass anglers got their start. These clubs offer friendly club competition where you’ll learn new bass tactics and techniques needed to move up into the more competitive contests if you want to.
Here’s a list of five local bass clubs, all of which have been around for a while: Adirondack Bass Club, Albany Area Bassmasters, Capital District Bassmasters (I’m still a member), Helderberg Bassmasters, and Mohawk Valley Bass Association. To contact these and other bass clubs in New York, go to www.nybassfed.com and click on “contacts.”